Purpose

John 18:7-11

7 Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9 to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.” 10 Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”

At first when I read this my thought was, “why did Jesus ask them again?” Duh, a moment prior Jesus spoke and knocked everyone on the ground. I wonder how “they” felt telling Him again who they were looking for. Now, in verse 9 John is referring to Jesus’ prayer not too long ago about His disciples to the father.

Peter’s zeal shows how easy it is to act via emotion instead of being still and quiet, understanding the will of God. I’ve realized lately that I don’t take as much time to just listen to what God is trying to tell me. How often do we act before listening? I think about verse 10 in Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” I feel like Jesus here speaks to Peter, “dude, chill out. Do you still not believe I am who I say I am?” Peter’s actions don’t quite reflect the love and faith in Jesus he says he has. How often do we do that? We act based on what we think we know, allowing it to blind us from what God says is going on. Yet, Jesus continues to love Peter. Our humanness too often gets in the way of fully understanding and knowing God. We are too quick to act and too slow to listen. We jump into action without realizing the consequences of our actions. Seems like an affliction we have had since the beginning of time, doesn’t it?

Verse 11 is about purpose. Generally we look at this as a rebuke to Peter. Maybe we relate it to violence. In other accounts of this story in the bible we read about Jesus actually healing Malchus’ ear and we use it as an example of Jesus’ love for those taking Him to the cross. Those uses of this story are quite valid, however, today I challenge you to look at it as a declaration of Jesus following the will of the Father. Jesus was sent here with a purpose and He was determined to carry it out.

Occasionally people ask my wife and I about God’s call upon our lives to go to Guatemala. People wonder why we have to go or why we have to go there. It isn’t necessarily that we “have” to go, but rather that we finally discovered what God has identified as His purpose for us. Certainly, in the future things may change and He may guide us in a different direction. Obviously, we could have just as easily refused to go. We definitely had and continue to have enough excuses not to go. However, we would never feel fully satisfied. I hope you don’t misunderstand, it isn’t about being satisfied in helping others. We did plenty of that in the States and plan on doing more as we have the opportunity. It isn’t about the accomplishment factor of helping another. It isn’t about cutting ourselves off from the American Rat Race. It is about simply responding to the command, “Follow Me.”

Each of us has this purpose I speak of. We all have a reason for being here. The majority of us realize there is a purpose, however I don’t think quite enough of us discover what that is, let alone act on it. We think we find it, but later down the line we discover it was just a distraction. We all have this inner desire to find meaning, purpose, and belonging and we constantly seek out what it is (whether or not we realize or admit it). Sometimes we hesitate for fear of doing the wrong thing. Other times we “jump the gun” and just do something because it’s better than doing nothing at all, right? What if we were just to search with our hearts what it really is? What if we were to honestly ask God what His purpose for us is?

I’ve discovered the God’s will and purpose for our lives is not a one-time goal. It isn’t “hey, go do this,” and you just keep heading in that path the rest of your life. Our purpose is to eagerly seek His will for us in the moment and be obedient to it. This could bring billions of possibilities: sell your car, talk to a stranger, pack up and move to another country, sit and listen to someone you don’t feel like listening to…the point isn’t what we do, it’s why we do it: because we asked God and He told us. When is the last time you asked God for direction in your life and then eagerly listened for the answer?

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